Back to the Basics: The Choice Challenge In Retirement

In Articles, Articles: Kansas City Office, Articles: Salt Lake City Office, Back to the Basics, SLC Summer 2021, Summer 2021 by Scott Dougan

The Choice Challenge In Retirement

If you were to ask me what is my very favorite thing, I think I’d say it’s choice. I suppose it’s like declaring that freedom is good. The very ability to make choices with our time, money, relationships, careers…these all make life so much richer than the alternative, having few choices. An uncluttered view of a distant horizon? Love it. A clear blue sky? Amazing. A clean, blank slate? The very best. But…

The downside of having so many choices is this: with choices come decisions and responsibility. After all, what’s the benefit of choice if you never really choose? If you have a thousand options lined up in front of you but you can’t get yourself to settle on one, then what have all these options really gained you? This juxtaposition of infinite choice and the inability to actually settle on anything can result in real problems. This choice challenge means we have to invest a lot of time and thought into choosing what to do, otherwise we would’ve been better off being told what to do and at least getting something done. 

Consider retirement. Possibly twenty or thirty years lie ahead of you. The choice of how to spend it is completely yours. An uncluttered view of a distant horizon, a clear blue sky, a clean, blank slate; the choice is yours.

So how do you decide how to invest your retirement years? We admittedly spend so much time and energy choosing the most appropriate investments to support a lengthy retirement, but I wonder if we invest enough effort in managing the asset of time during this unique phase of life. In light of that, here are some questions to consider as you ponder your own retirement ‘choice challenge’:

• What activity is important to you that you’re not investing enough time in right now?

• What activities are you investing too much time into right now?

• What commitments should you cancel or say no to that would otherwise keep you from doing something more fulfilling or purposeful?

• What’s your likely deathbed regret? Do you want to change this while you still have the opportunity?

• What do people tell you you’re good at? Do you see opportunities to put that skill to use to help others?

• Which friend or family member could most use your help tomorrow?

• What class do you want to take in order to learn a new skill?

• What’s a goal that seems crazy to work toward but would blow your mind if you accomplished it?

The amazing thing is the fact that you have all of these choices available to you, yet if you’re like most people, you’re not being very deliberate about making the tough choices. The choice challenge finds us flush with options, wandering through time, unaware that we’re quickly running out of it. When you consider these questions, also ask yourself, If not you, then who? If not now, when?

This choosing thing can be hard work. Retirement is an amazing gift you’ve earned for yourself, so what will you do with that gift you’ve worked so long and so hard to attain? The choices are yours.